Growing Leadership Abilities

The last couple years has been trying at best. Life was put on hold in many respects. As we emerge from some of the most challenging times, NOW is the time to slingshot into what’s next for you.

  • Career advancement?
  • Starting or growing your own business?
  • Giving back to your community?
  • Deepening connections in the valley?
  • Being a better manager, mom/dad or partner?

Whatever your personal and professional goals are – our flagship program, RFL’s Academy, will help you get there.

The Academy program provides the tools, dialogue and practical application for participants to become better leaders and thus better people. 

Participants describe the 10-month program as inspiring, eye-opening, life-changing, challenging, and transformative. They often have cathartic or revitalizing experiences that bring new enthusiasm and excitement to all aspects of their life – both personally and professionally. 

If you want to develop your personal capacity to make an impact – the Academy is for you. To see our most recent graduates – click here. 

“In working to improve our communities, leadership is our most important resource. It is the engine that pulls the train. If you are involved in any group or organization, you will need to develop leadership in order to accomplish anything of significance. Why? Because it is leaders who make things happen. It is leaders who have a vision, take initiative, influence people, make proposals, organize logistics, solve problems, follow-up, and most of all — take responsibility. This is why leadership development should be a central activity for any community.” – University of Kansas’s declaration on the “Needs for Formal Leadership Development Within a Community.”

For years, RFL’s rating from program participants have exceeded industry norms with 97% agreed or strongly agreed that RFL played a significant role in improving their leadership skills. Additionally:

  • 90% agreed or strongly agreed that the program was a valuable use of their time
  • 92% welcome the challenge of leading a group or initiative at work (because of the skill learned in the program)
  • 82% experienced a “breakthrough” in the program
  • 97% improved their effectiveness in current leadership roles

RFL Academy is a 10-month course (August through May) that includes 11 sessions, 100+ hours.

Applications for RFL Academy 2023 are due by July 15, 2023.

Once your application is received, we will contact you within a week to schedule an interview.

Tuition for RFL Academy 2024 is $3,450. Monthly payment plans are available and are encouraged if full payment upfront is not possible.

Each year the Roaring Fork Leadership Class is divided into project teams (with 6-8 participants in each) that take on a civic project.  The purpose of these teams is to provide participants the opportunity to practice their skills learned in the program while making an impact in the community.  The skills include – the process of collaboration, consensus building, team decision making, leading change, facilitation, and conflict resolution. Through the practice of these essential and vital leadership skills participants discover the value of creativity, empathy, openness, discipline, and closure – and most importantly the power to make a difference for themselves and the community. Click here for more information about civic projects and/or to submit your project for consideration.

Participation in RFL Academy requires a commitment of time and energy. Please consider carefully the following requirements.

  • Participants who miss more than 2 meetings will be required to withdraw from the program. The integrity of the program requires that participants be present at all sessions to both learn the leadership skills and to develop personal relationships.
  • Complete all reading and writing assignments in a timely manner.
  • Respect the confidential nature of the comments and discussion made during the group meetings.
  • Tuition fee paid as outlined in the payment agreement.

1. Orientation: Find out what to expect in this 1.5 hour session.

2. Retreat: Conscious Leadership: 2-day retreat to jump-start the program.

3. Discover What Drives You – DISC: Utilizing the DISC assessment, this session helps individuals increase self-awareness and uncovers what motivates you.

4. Adaptive Leadership: This session helps leaders understand the difference between technical solutions and adaptive challenges.

5. Decisive Leadership: Civic Project Selection Day: In this session, civic project teams go through a decision-making process to select a civic project.

6. Leading Change: Practical skills and tools are provided to apply to the class project process as well as to organizational and community issues.

7. Courageous Leadership: This is a powerful session on the behaviors and tactics of being a courageous leadership.

8. Effective Communication: Learn the 4 steps to effective communication and how to stay calm & collected when communication becomes difficult.

9. Civic Leadership: Learn a process and mindset for how to “interest-based bargain” on community issues.

10. Resilient Leadership: Feedback & Flexibility: Learn how to incorporate feedback processes into any leadership or professional role.

11. Conscious Leadership: Closing Session: This day is created to celebrate the year of learning and to share your accomplishments and align your intentions as community leaders.

The focus of effective leadership through communication, civic leadership, and conflict resolution has helped prepare me …  The networking that RFL facilitated has helped me build relationships with many of the valley’s leaders and has allowed for numerous opportunities for collaboration.

Austin Weiss, RFL Academy Alumni, Aspen's Director of Parks

Participating in the Academy program has helped me see a path to integrate the personal growth, intuitive and spiritual side of myself with the business, practical and outcomes driven side of myself.

Dave Levine, RFL Academy Alumni, Dave Levine, RFL Academy Alumni

When you go through something like RFL, sometimes you don’t understand what it gives you until later. I appreciate the kinds of conversations that happened in that room; you feel like you’re part of something. It’s definitely a stepping stone in your own understanding of what leadership can mean.  

Mitzi Rapkin, RFL Alumni 2013, Podcaster, Journalist, Fiction Writer

RFL was valuable in being able to network. I was able to meet a new group of people in my community that I would have never known without RFL. Everyone was truly an inspiration to me, seeing their accomplishments and how they contribute… RFL really did give me a new outlook on the possibilities of life.

Shelbi Bauer, RFL Academy Alumni, Alpine Bank

RFL provided me with an ongoing educational forum in Leadership training; an opportunity to learn about current valley wide issues, and with the contacts made, the ability to utilize these skills and information gained to be more effective in my civic and community involvement.

George Newman, RFL Founder, Pitkin County Commissioner

One thing I really took away from the course was learning that often, employees don’t leave because they don’t like what they were doing, they leave because they have poor management. We have a small boatyard in Newport where we do a lot of work on the boat when it’s up here and I manage the 8-10 people who do that work. I think that knowledge has pushed me to be a better manager and pushed me to make sure everyone is happy and fulfilled, otherwise it’ll be impossible to find good employees regardless of the industry you’re in – whether it’s restaurants or retail or sailing boats or managing a boatyard.  

Josh Axler, RFL Academy 2021, Sailboat Racer, Captain

RFL helped us boost our leadership skills, and provide the tools and relationships to further expand our personal and professional goals and dreams.

Dwayne and Margaret Romero, RFL Academy Alumni

Thanks to the broad range of RFL sessions, and the progression in how they were presented, I’ve felt a transformation in my personal growth, which has led to a transformation in my professional demeanor, one that is far from complete but that I continue to work on every day.

Cindy Hirschfeld, RFL Academy Alumni, Aspen Sojourner

RFL has affected my leadership journey by connecting me with individuals and teaching me the language of leadership. The skills and knowledge taught in the program have impacted my life by raising my level of awareness, skill, and education, so that I may continue to be of service to the communities I’m involved in.

Tony Mendez, RFL Academy Alumni, Alpine Legal Services

During RFL, I started getting better in the way I communicated – not just through email but I had opportunities to do video calls and phone calls. Ironically, I’ve always preferred face-to-face communication, so I can see people’s reactions. I was never comfortable with writing or just speaking over the phone. Practicing all those kinds of communication helped me a lot because then the pandemic hit and the way I managed to maintain communication with people was really important for my job. I worked remotely in Miami for almost 6 months and I was still able to produce the same level of work as when I was in the office.  

In my personal life, I developed the confidence to break out of my shell and learned how to communicate better with friends and family. I learned how to explain things in a way people understand and be aware of what my body language is reflecting. Being in RFL was like being in a safe sandbox for me. I never felt judged. I felt I could try different things and get feedback on what I could do better and practice that. 

Marjorie Jerez, RFL Academy 2020, US Forest Service

In RFL, I had this realization that I could be a leader – I can lead without being a titled person. From Greg Cortopassi [RFL faculty], I learned it’s okay to be vulnerable, to have emotion, to be my authentic self. I need to come from my truth to help others discover how they can lead and grow. 

For me, it was also really important to learn about human interaction – being a successful leader is all about understanding other people and human behavior.  

Jannette Whitcomb, RFL Alumni 2002, Garfield County

This program motivated me to join a volunteer organization and give back to the community.  It has given me an added level of maturity and skills to incorporate into my workplace and home life.  It has confirmed that each of us really can make a substantial difference in the community…

Gordon Ledingham, RFL Academy Alumni, Wells Fargo